Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday the government and NGOs not only need to provide vocational training to the disabled, but help the disabled sustain themselves in the free market.
He characterized current training efforts as helping the disabled “hold [a] fishing rod and stand in front of the swimming pool.”
But even with a fishing rod, he said, there could be no fish to catch.
“The free market will never do a favor to disabled people,” the premier said at the opening of a two-day conference on the topic. “These are [the] tasks of all training institutes….The training of disabled people should be done in both offering [the] fishing rod” and finding a way to let them participate in the free market.
Some 203,000 people, or 2.2 percent of Cambodia’s population, are estimated to be disabled, according to a 1997 socio-economic survey. About one of five is a victim of war or a land mine, according to the survey.
The workshop, entitled “Opening New Horizons for Cambodians with Disabilities,” is being organized by the Ministry of Social Affairs in cooperation with the International Labor Organization, the Disability Action Council and other disability organizations. The goal in part is to ensure all ministries take into account the needs of disabled people in their policies and programs, according to visiting ILO assistant director-general Mitsuko Horiuchi.
“The workshop is a positive sign that the government, and other agencies are committed to promoting disabled people in a society,” said Helen Pitt, executive director for the Disability Action Council. “It will help acknowledge they can do much to develop Cambodia.”
Cambodia is a signatory country to the international Proclamation on the Disabled People in the Asian and Pacific Region, which sets out targets for participation and equality of the disabled in society.
But due to lack of money and human resources, the government has not been able to provide necessary means to promote the disabled, officials said.